i would like some advice on starting a homestead from the ground up, me and my family are buying 57 acres in tenn. and we are going to make a homestead out of it, and i would like some advice on how to do things and where to start from.
get subscriptions and pick up every back issue you can find of Countryside Magazine, Small Farm Journal, Backwoods Home, and Mother Earth News. Study them for a few months to feel out the possibilities- then meet with your partner and children, and discuss options. Everyone should be able to get something they want in the mix you select. You may want to raise niche crops like gingseng or organic meat on shares- weave- build your own house- homeschool- go offgrid- garden- smith- log your own land with a portable sawmill- can and preserve - offer a u pik- build some tourist cabins or a hiker hostel if you're near trails- raise endangered rare breeds of farm animals - there are too many possibilities for you just to say - here's 57 acres now what?!
The land will let you know what is a possibility. 57 acres of pasture is different from 57 acres clinging to the side of a steep mountain. With or without water? Within 2-3 hours of a major metropolis with possible cutomers for whatever you do?
Anyway, good luck!
Having done this more than once, I can say the first things of importance after getting the land clear is to develop your water system. Neither you nor plants can get by without water and if you end up hauling water in 50 gallon drums for your plants you will be wasting a lot of time.
First time I developed a place I waited on water and what a waste of my time that was. Second time, well first...much easier for further accomplishments.
Third time, I built a dam first for a water capture. Dam, takeout pipes behind the dam, backfill with 40 yards of pea gravel. Trenched almost a mile for pipes and backfilled. A great gravity water system! Now water was secured I could move on. Set up a lot of drip systems for fruit trees, etc.
Second most important issue followed from basic needs: water, shelter, food. So I proceeded to set up a Gypsy Camp for myself. I used old garage doors to build a rudimentary shelter next to my 8 foot cabover camper. Lived there comfortably for six years.
Next was getting a garden area set up. This was hard because of the need for fencing as well as fertilizer and such for an organic garden. And the persistence of the local deer. And bears!
Once you have food, water, shelter taken care of moving on to additional projects is easier to do and easier on you.
Also goto your library and find books. The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it by John Seymour (I think) is very good. You can also find many books on building, gardening, animal husbandry, etc. More information on your situation would be helpful. Like what your land is like? does it have a house? does it have buildings? are you keeping a job in the city? are you near an okay sized city? 8,000 people or so? what you and your family want to get out of this? what do you think you would like doing? Just remember to take it slow and do lots of planning. Try to get everybody, who can help, in you family involved. Read lots, books, magizines, here on this fourm, etc. I would, as a family, compile a list of ideas of possible things to do, underneath each you can put details like prerequistes, or more specifics. Have fun and Good Luck
Of course this is just one persons opinion(sp?) Get one or two good stock dogs first. My first start,duck ,chickens,fruit trees and a garden. The deer said thanks for the growing things,the owls,racoons,coyotes said thanks for the meat. Now with three Great Pyrenes the chickens,ducks,goats and rabbits free range where there wish. The dogs keep everything out except what belongs here. The only bad side to the G.P. is that they bark alot at night.oh yeah,they eat alot to. State of Misery(Mo.)
Start small and get each step under control before moving to the next. Transition slowly and steadily and build multiple , diversified income streams based at your home place. I transitioned from an industrial engineer to worm rancher, investor and gardener. Documenting a business plan helps a lot.
If you've never lived in the country before, pick a book called 'Blood-Lust Chickens and Renegade Sheep:A First Timer's Guide to Country Living' by Nick and Anita Evangelista. A good book on what to expect from living in the country. There aren't alot of details which is good because it's not meant as a manual for country living. It just gives you lot's of things to think about.
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